New Delhi: In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of "Blue Economy", country's ambitious Sagarmala project has identified 173 projects entailing huge investment of $60 billion (around Rs 4 lakh crore) by 2020, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said Thursday.
This in turn would save India $6 billion per annum in logistics costs besides creating 10 million new jobs, the Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister said at an event in Singapore today.
"Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi says that Blue Chakra of India's national flag represents the potential of the Blue Economy and my Ministry is committed to realising its full potential," an official statement quoted Gadkari as saying.
He said the government has embarked on Sagarmala project, a model of port-led development for India which will establish new ports and modernise old ones to link coastal and island territories with the hinterland.
The project is based on four pillars - Optimising multi-modal transport to reduce cost of domestic cargo by leveraging inland waterways, minimising time and cost of export-import cargo logistics, lowering costs for bulk industries by locating them closer to the coast and improving export competitiveness by locating discrete manufacturing clusters near ports.
"We have identified 173 projects under the Sagarmala programme with a total outlay of $60 billion...We aim to complete all these projects by 2020. When completed, they will have created 10 million new jobs and increased our coastal shipping volumes by five times from the current levels of 60 million tonnes per annum," Gadkari said.
Most importantly, the Sagarmala programme will also save India close to $6 billion in logistics costs every year, he said addressing delegates from 30 countries at the conference.
He said with a coastline of 7,500 km and 1,200 island territories, India is and has always has been a maritime nation. "Our central location in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has connected us with other cultures, shaped our maritime trade routes and influenced India's strategic thought," he said and added India has also been a net provider of security and force for stability in the region.
"These three pillars of Culture, Commerce and Comity are also the central themes of this conference. We live in a world where the strategic and economic pivots are shifting to make the Indo-Pacific generally and the IOR more specifically the
centrestage of virtually every major power," he added.
Gadkari said his Ministry has decided to benchmark performance of major ports to the best in global ports and learn from international best practices.
Citing example of Haldia Port, he said it uses bio-diesel, while ports in Tuticorn, Ennore and Chenanai use solar and wind power which reduces logistics cost.
"As a result of all our efforts, I am happy to tell you that all ports and companies under Shipping Ministry are now in profits (net profit to be Rs 3,000 crore).
Urging cooperation from neighbouring countries, he said India believed in neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean littoral to be partners in its growth story to fuel economic growth and bring sustainability to the IOR.
"Therefore, beyond the Sagarmala, we are also committed to building infrastructure in other littoral countries to create onward connectivity from India. We have established a SPV to take up maritime projects overseas.
"We have also signed a coastal shipping agreement with Bangladesh and are developing the Chahbahar port in Iran, which would act as the gateway to the world not only for Afghanistan but also for the Central Asian Republics," the minister said.
India is currently going through a phase of rapid transformation under PM Modi's leadership and it is an exciting time to partner with it, he said.
Make in India, Smart Cities, Clean India, Skill India - these are all initiatives that can resonate and be replicated to varying degrees in littoral countries.
He said India is offering its regional satellite navigation system NavIC to neighbours, sharing capacity enhancement in digital space, linking centres of higher education across the SAARC countries and meeting growing demands for quality healthcare from surrounding regions.
The Minister said, "None of us can grow in isolation, and building synergies has always been a win-win situation for all partners. Your development priorities will guide our engagement; not our perception of your needs."
Stressing that Indian Ocean has always been about diversity and pluralism, different cultures and civilisations, and political and economic systems, he said India's project 'Mausam' is aimed at revisiting these ancient maritime routes and cultural links with other countries in the region.
"Indian Ocean is critical to the future of the world. Its waters touch the shores of over 40 countries and nearly 40 percent of the world population. Two-thirds of the worlds oil shipments and one-third of the bulk cargo cross the Indian Ocean," he said adding "Our future cannot be a zerosum game. IOR is our common maritime home and our vision for this region is best summarized in the Prime-Ministers phrase of SAGAR- Security and Growth for All in the Region."
He said India is India is committed to use its capabilities and central location in the region to ensure a safe, secure and stable Indian Ocean Region that takes all to the shore of prosperity.